A new Miss USA was crowned in Las Vegas earlier this year. Albeit the decrease in TV viewership and the overhaul of the pageant format, fans were surprised with a drastic change seen in crowning the new Miss USA queen.
Some former queens have expressed their opinions on the change. As a matter of fact, Miss USA 2004 and Miss Universe 2004 first runner-up Shandi Finnessey was critical about the recently concluded Miss USA 2017 pageant.
The former beauty queen, author, and TV host has expressed her concern on what she perceived as the pageant “heading towards the wrong direction”. Well, she’s not alone with her views.
Change in Miss USA Criteria
If you have watched the live telecast by Fox network of this year’s Miss USA, you’ll notice the emphasis given by the organization on the candidates’ achievements. To top it all, the eventual winner, Miss District of Columbia Kára McCullough was packaged as a brainy girl having worked as a physical scientist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the United States.
Her credentials have been repeated and echoed by the hosts and the on-air commentator, giving emphasis on what she does rather than her finals night performance. In fact, her win gave an impression that the Miss USA 2017 finals have become more like Miss America.
The conclusion of Miss USA 2017 gave pageant fans, critics, and analysts something to discuss and ponder. Has there been a change in Miss USA criteria?
The answer is yes. It seems that this is the direction that IMG-WME wants to take for the pageant: focus more on women empowerment and values enrichment, rather than the glitz, glamor, and intense competition that it has been known for years.
Miss USA vs. Miss America
As a comparison, Miss America has been the oldest and longest running national beauty competition in the US. But the organizations has vehemently refused to label itself as a beauty pageant. Instead, it has been reiterating that Miss America is the largest scholarship program for women in America.
Yes, you heard it right. Miss America is a scholarship program.
Miss USA, on the other hand, has been the go-to pageant for women who wants to actually compete in a beauty pageant, without much regard to their educational background, credentials, or professional endeavor.
But that is about to change. The change in Miss USA criteria is evident in the back-to-back crowning of Misses District of Columbia. Miss USA 2016, Deshauna Bareber, is a member of the US military. And last year’s finals had mentioned it countless of times, selling Deshauna as the new face of pageantry, strong-willed, proactive, and has active social involvement.
Is this change in Miss USA criteria good or bad?
Surely, the former Miss USA 2004 has her fair share of concerns. As the pageant heads to a new direction, it would basically alienate the fans at its core.
Let’s admit it. The people who ask and demand of relevance from pageants are the casual viewers, worse, non-pageant fans/followers who just want to be critical of things. Whereas at the core of the pageant are the die-hard supporters and fans who would like to see more stage action, competition, glitz, and fashion extravaganza than sob stories and videos of candidates doing god-knows-what.
While I applaud the Miss USA/Miss Universe Organization for transforming the pageant into more positive and reversing the overly sexualized image it had during the Trump era, I must admit that I miss the old pageant that I love.
The Trump era of Miss Universe was pumped with so much adrenaline. The glam shots, photo shoots, preliminary competitions, and the finals night were all something to watch out for. The era has definitely catered the satisfaction of pageant fans, the hardcore pageant fanatics.
But the previous era has also disregarded much social relevance of the Miss Universe brand. The winner has become more of a model than a role model, a beauty queen revered by many.
So why not strike a balance?
Keep elements of Trump era that’s good for TV ratings and entertainment, while making the reign of the Miss USA winner more impactful, culturally and socially.